This afternoon, a book on BJP veteran LK Advani will be released by the author, who served as Mr Advani’s aide for three decades. BJP parliamentarian Subramanian Swamy will serve as Chief Guest. Mr Advani, however, will not be present. “This book does not have the consent of LK Advani and has been published against his wishes,” the 88-year-old’s secretary, Deepak Chopra, said in a statement. Sources close to author Vishwambhar Srivastava say he was surprised by the curt letter released to the media by Mr Advani’s office especially since the politician had been sent the manuscript. They point to a photograph of the author holding the book with Mr Advani to prove that the leader had not expressed any reservations about the work. “Advani Ke Saath 32 Saal” (32 Years with Advani) is packed with political and other anecdotes of a period in Mr Advani’s life that included his campaign to have a temple for Lord Ram built in Ayodhya where the Babri Masji, a 16th-century mosque stood till it was razed by thousands of right-wing volunteers in 1992, triggering huge communal riots. The book also explores more recent controversies for Mr Advani -like his vehement opposition to his party’s decision to pick then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as its presumptive Prime Minister. In September 2013, Mr Advani skipped a meeting of the BJP’s top decision-makers called to formally nominate Mr Modi. “I had told you that I will think whether I should share my thoughts with other Board members or not. Now, I have decided that it is better that I do not attend today’s meeting,” he wrote in a letter to the BJP’s parliamentary board. The new book reveals that “Mr Advani had planned to attend the session and even got into his car to drive to the meeting, but then changed his mind at the last minute.” That decision closed the relationship between Mr Advani and his former protege, who would go on to sweep the 2014 election with the biggest mandate in 30 years. Mr Advani was relegated to an advisory committee of mentors, the “marg-darshak mandal”, lampooned by the opposition as a “retirement home” created by a party that has no respect or value for its seniors. The book highlights Mr Advani’s opposition to nepotism in politics and in 1989, he was unequivocal in rejecting the suggestion for his son, Jayant, to run for a a by-election from the Gandhinagar constituency in Gujarat, though state BJP leaders promised an easy victory. The book says that in 1977, when Mr Advani was made Information and Broadcasting Minister in the government led by Morarji Desai, he was reportedly taken aback by the vast ring of armed guards that appeared around him as soon as he was sworn in. Mr Srivastava writes,”When he was told they are security personnel to protect him, Advani was very unhappy and told his aide, ‘I don’t need any security. Ask them to go back.’ ” Mr Srivastava says it was only after top officials intervened that the armed guards were allowed to remain.
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